Thursday, August 20, 2009

Science Talk - Scientific American Podcast

Recently I have listened to two issues of a podcast from the Scientific American. Inside the Scientific American the name of the podcast is Science Talk, but the podcast is labelled Scientific American Podcast in your feedcatcher (feed).

Science Talk is presented by Steve Mirsky and is issued once a week. The episodes talk around 25 minutes, varying from 14 up to 31 minutes. They are easily accessible and address one subject each. The two issues I listened two were about colony collapse disorder and disappearance of bees (bee afraid, bee very afraid) and about basic and effective measures for improving health (Atul Gawande Redux). About bees speaks May Berenbaum entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is the recording of a lecture in front of children. About health Mirsky interviews Atul Gawande, a surgeon who wrote a book about the subject.

May Berenbaum was not prepared to speak in front of children. On the fly she adapts her talk to their level, maintaining the content and its conclusion. Consequently the problems with bees are made crystal clear. This podcast episode is widely acclaimed on account if this, but it comes at a price. One senses the stress Berenbaum experiences during the talk and it causes her to speak with pressure. In addition, there is a lot of noise from the kids in the background. Therefore, the content quality comes with a lessened audio experience.

In comparison, the studio talk with Atul Gawande is of clean sound. I enjoyed this podcast very much, since it shows a frontier for improving the health situation in an unexpected fashion. Usually I would think of improved technology, but Gawande shows ground can be gained with simple measures and outdated technology.